Well here we are at the start of another club year, feeling duty bound to get the boat out to justify the membership fee, brushing cobwebs off the sails,
getting the ants out of the spinnaker bag etc. This is also a good time of year to make sure that your boat is tied down properly although not as good as three weeks ago, before the windy weather
came. As it was, a couple of Fireballs were blown around when a stake pulled loose, and one suffered some damage. Also, if you take your boat home for the winter, it may be a good idea to take the mast
with it. We have had bits nicked off one and some damage to another.
Events occurring include:
Severn Trent Pursuit race Won by me and Paul (hurrah) with Don and Pete coming 4th.
Silver Salvers No wind, so no prizes for Fireballs at all.
Our Open meeting 30 boats, 5 from Draycote contested 5 races over the weekend of 10/11th April. Ex-World champion DJ Edwards won, with ex-DWSC sailor Martyn Lewis getting 5th place and Ex-boy scouts me and Paul getting the prize for first Draycote boat (possibly because Pete Badham failed to sign off for the last race). We made a few quid for the fleet and had a good time big thanks to Pete Greenrod for doing all the hard work organising this event.
Twenty people attended which wasn't bad at all compared with some years. We voted to levy a fleet subscription at £10 per boat this year, and to drop the requirement for fleet members to be members of the UKFA in order to qualify for fleet events. Technically of course, every Fireball owner needs to be a member of the UKFA in order to race at Draycote, and the committee would strongly encourage everybody to sign up. However, it was felt that membership of the UKFA is a matter for individual boat owners to consider on its merits, without the Draycote Fireball committee getting involved. We then waved goodbye to the outgoing lot, Ray and Anne Steele, Pete Greenrod, Martin Gaskin and Dave Hotten who all deserve our thanks for giving up their time over the last year. The incoming lot are as follows:
Fleet Captain - Mike Deane
Prizes - Paul Disney
Treasurer - Lucy Littlewood
Results - Phil Watkins
Secretary - Tina Watkins
Boatpark - John Tenney
Social Secretary - Angie Taylor
Training - Pete Badham
Due to technical reasons there were profits from two open meetings in the last fleet year, and we just about managed to break even. This fleet year there will
be no open meetings at all, hence the need for your tenner in fleet subs. As usual, anyone not paying will not be eligible to compete in any fleet sailing event (and you have to pay up before the event no waiting till you win something and then paying). Note that it's a tenner per boat this time, rather than a fiver per person; it's a lot easier to administer this way. Fleet subs pays for prizes and newsletters, so you don't have to pay it if you just attend social events (although you can if you want to).
Fleet Boat ++
The fleet is buying a boat ('Firestarter'), which can be lent to anyone who wants to get the hang of a Fireball before buying one. This will
be a fleet asset, and will hopefully bring in a few more members. Obviously, existing fleet members are also eligible to borrow the thing, although everyone using it is invited to make a donation to
fleet funds to help pay for its upkeep (say £10 per day or £5 per evening). It is a low maintenance fibreglass boat, and is not to be used in anything over a force 4. Requests for use of the boat to me
on 01788 544706. Many thanks to everyone who donated bits for this boat it wouldn't have happened without your generosity.
Fleet Boat --
Shortly after we acquired Firestarter, a very nice man donated his entire boat to the fleet. It is number 2783, and needs a fair amount of work doing
to it to make it usable, but it is sound and well built. Because it's wooden we don't want to keep it, but it's fixable and too good to just pillage for fittings (which was my original plan), so it's up
for sale. We would like to see it go to someone who will sail it, rather than have it broken up for spares. Bids must be in by June 6th, see the noticeboard for more details.
'A' and 'B' Fleets
One idea from the AGM was that we rename the 'A' and 'B' fleets to 'Masters' and 'Challengers', partly because it sounds better, and partly to avoid the implied
stigma of any Fireballer being 'B' fleet. Now I personally propped up the back of the 'B' fleet for a couple of years and never felt that this implied anything other than the obvious, but I figure we'll
give it a try anyway. The other idea that we have resurrected is that the 'B' fleet (sorry, 'Challengers') start every race 3 minutes before the Masters. This is the case for every race except Pursuits
and Marriott Mug events. So:
Challengers - Yellow flag up is your 3 minute signal, and Blue flag up is your start. } Each flag goes down 1 min
Masters - Yellow flag up is your 6 minute signal, Blue is three and Red is your start.} before the next one goes up.
Don't be confused by the orange flag (On Station), which goes up before you arrive and comes down long after you've gone.
Please try to get the hang of the start sequence, start at the right time and make sure you know the course you can't rely on being able to follow
anybody, certainly not me.
Masters are: Pete Badham, Mike Deane, Don Robertson, Ray Steele, John Tenney, Miles Thomas, Ian Western and Graham Wilson. Everybody else is a Challenger
until the committee tells them otherwise.
We're looking good on the water, with 10 boats out on a recent Sunday and 7 last Wednesday. With the Challengers getting a headstart there is also potential for
some overtaking, and as we approached 'X' last week with the kite up behind five other Fireballs (with a few behind us), I was reminded of how much fun it is to sail in a big fleet. It is definitely the
new members who are providing the impetus for this by turning out in all weathers. They may not know the rules, course, start sequence or how to rig the boat, but they are turning up and sailing, and
hey all of a sudden we're a big fleet. So can I just pause to say thank-you to everyone who sails regularly. It really doesn't matter a damn if you don't have new sails, harken ratchet blocks,
wide-bow Winders and Milanes foils, as long as the boat is on the water and you're enjoying sailing it.
We've got a fair number of new Fireballers in the fleet now. Old hands should not assume that these guys know the finer points of the rules, or even that
they've seen you coming. Paul and I once hit an island with the kite up because we were a bit distracted (it had bushes on and everything). Well these guys are very distracted, OK.
We're going to organise a training day or two soon. In the meantime, I am available to help anyone (helm or crew) from 2.30PM every Sunday. Take me out in your
boat and I'll tell you what's wrong with you and it. In a nice way, obviously.
We're going Bowling
At 7.30 on Saturday June 12th at Forum in Coventry (NOT the M6 J2 place, the one on Longfellow Road in the Stoke area). It will cost £8.50 per person for 3 games including shoe hire. Everyone is invited, fleet members, friends, ex-members etc. Pay on the night, but we do need to know roughly how many people are coming, so let me or Angie know, or write on the sheet provided on the noticeboard.
The Alternative Open Meeting Report - from your 'man in the water' Mike Deane
Key:CB Committee Boat. WM Windward Mark. GM Gybe Mark. SB SailBoard, RB Rescue Boat.
Race 1 Good start at CB, good beat, 6th at WM. Nice gybe at GM, look up - big RB + downed SB dead ahead, quick luff, fall over clonk SB with boom (good). Entire fleet sail past waving. Pull kite down, pull boat up mast upwind so dive off plate to stern boat comes up, boat sails off. Swim after it, get no closer. RB crew wave cheerfully. Swim more, bit closer. RB crew look bored. Swim like mad, catch boat, fall exhausted on deck. Kite now round rudder so drift ashore bemoan passing of good old days when SBs on open meeting course were roundly flogged and deported to colonies.
20 secs before start, boat to leeward tacks gently onto port & rams us. Paul falls out, gun goes off boat now on port sailing away from line with crew in water - not good start. OK, grab crew, recover, sail v. fast, overtake things. Next beat - meet different downed SB, fail to entirely miss it, quick clonk, exchange pleasantries, carry on. Top of first run, kite up nasty noise, strut come off mast. Instruct crew '
Quick put spare pin in'. Crew mucks about crew reports spare pin too short + just fell overboard. Instruct crew 'Use other spare pin & tape it in place'. Crew reports
helm left tape on bank. Now planing on dead run, standing up flying kite with both hands & steering with knees in F5 with crew on foredeck and bendy mast. Pause for thought - capsize. Rest of fleet
sail past waving. Get kite down, pull boat up - mast upwind so dive off plate to stern boat sails off, scream 'Not Again'- grab spinnaker sheet - boat now doing mach 5 towards wall towing self
(bit like low budget James Bond film). Crew looks confused boat moving but nobody helming - Voodoo ?. Shout 'Uncleat Gurgle' - 'Gurgle Jib' - 'Uncleat gurgle *!*!*!* jib -
Thank you'. Rejoin boat, sail ashore slowly moan like mad.
Race 3 Good start at CB, tack onto port & cowboy off right. Fleet goes left - fleet wrong. Go round WM 2nd, lead boat hoists
kite - lead boat capsizes can hear helm chanting rude phrase repeatedly. Sail past into lead. Now leading open meeting race
for about 30 secs anyway. Got overtaken, pole fell off at GM, lost more places, now sailing round with D.J. Edwards, ex world champion. V. Happy. Ended up 12th.
Good start #1, but recalled. Black flag up, wait a bit - good start #2, but recalled. Lots of boats disqualified go back to shore - good, less to be beaten by. Alistair sails past claiming he should win because rest of fleet cheating (?). Start #3 clean but less good. Race tedious, no shipwrecks, came 13th.
Wrong end of line (it was tactical, OK), crummy race, v. windy but stayed upright, fantastic 3 sail reaches - beaten by everything. Finished last, still happy.
People who sail frequently are generally going to be given places nearer the water than people who don't, but we do take the age of the sailors into
consideration (we don't want to lose any of you). We expect more boats to join us this year so a bit more reorganisation might be needed, and any unregistered boats will be going straight to the top of
Really there to encourage other people to join us, but Phil reckons he will post race results on it, and there's some other worthwhile stuff too. Check it
out at www.mindless.freeuk.com . You can also email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you feel the need.
The committee would like to wish you all Good Sailing for the coming year